Intersectionality: Aboriginal Women and Employment

Tara attended the 2017 United Nations Commission on the Status of Women where she represented Charles Darwin University. She is currently studying a Bachelor of Applied Social Science (Indigenous Resource Management & Indigenous Social Policy)


Colonisation involved the implementation of an overriding patriarchal system through the intentional dismemberment of traditional Aboriginal economic, political, social, spiritual and ceremonial domains. Aboriginal women have had their land, families and personal autonomy systematically removed by generations of discriminative government policy, whilst simultaneously being blamed for their low socio-economic position in Australian society. This continues to perpetuate the colonial and patriarchal oppression of Aboriginal women inherited by society today.

Aboriginal women are already vulnerable to living in poverty, and to psychological distress associated with these material living conditions. Growing inequality further risks marginalising Aboriginal women by making it more difficult to access health, housing and employment, as well as increasing stigma and diminishing equality of opportunity more generally.

In Central Australia, Aboriginal women commonly experience discrimination in the workplace on two fronts; firstly, based on their Aboriginality and secondly, based on gender. The combination of these intersecting axes disempower Indigenous women to a degree not experienced by white, or ‘racially privileged’ women and cannot be understood by thinking about race or gender in isolation. Intersectionality is the concept of such tension.

This paper aims to explore intersectionality in a post-colonial Australian context and to identify the relationship between social determinants and economic empowerment for Aboriginal women in Central Australia.

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Give Indigenous Australian women and infants a chance at life: addressing the disparity in maternal-infant health outcomes

By Kaitlyn Krahe

Kaitlyn represented Victoria University at the 2016 OECD Forum in Paris.  


Urged by a national public awareness campaign in 2008, the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) formally committed to “Closing the Gap” between the health outcomes of Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians within a generation (FaHCSIA, 2012). Almost a decade since this agreement, significant discrepancies persist. Of particular concern and even greater urgency are the pervasive inequalities which render Australian Indigenous women twice as likely to experience severe maternal morbidity and three times more likely to die during pregnancy compared to non-Indigenous women (ABS, 2015). Similarly, infants of Indigenous descent have double the risk of dying during their first year of life (AIHW, 2014a). The onus of overcoming this entrenched cycle of endemic disadvantage, underpinned by more than two hundred years of systematic dispossession, exacerbated by decades of underinvestment and a distinct lack of accessible facilities offering culturally competent resources, compels all members of civil society, government policy makers and key stakeholders in the education, health and social support spheres to “Close the Gap”. This paper will posit strategies for improving maternal-infant health outcomes by addressing the root socioeconomic causes which give rise to inequality, better accounting for all Indigenous people in national data collection and developing culturally appropriate and inclusive healthcare using a rights-based, community focused framework.

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Invest in an Indigenous girl, and she’ll do the rest: Empowering girls today makes for a more prosperous tomorrow

By Renee White

Renee attended the 2016 UN Commission on the Status of Women in New York.


Over the past several decades in Australia, there have been a range of attempts to close the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. Indigenous women continue to be severely disadvantaged across their lifetimes, notably lacking access to relevant and effective education opportunities and the tools to support them through to successful careers. In recent years, a focus has been placed on developing the educational performance of boys, which has drawn attention away from addressing the educational inequalities of Indigenous girls.[1] It is important that Indigenous women are supported to become drivers of change, and that policies are created to remove the divide between Indigenous and non-Indigenous women, including through addressing unequal education opportunities. In line with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples,[2] and the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action,[3] this paper serves to identify the key causes of the current inequality and recommend practical actions for change.

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Exploring Nutritious food as a Key Tool in Closing the Gap in Indigenous Health Inequality

By Lydia O'Meara

Lydia attended the 2015 OECD Forum in Paris. 


  • Recommendation 1: Focus initial public nutrition policy and programme implementation on improving nutritional biochemical markers in the first 1000-days of Indigenous childhood life in remote areas of Australia.
  • Recommendation 2: Commit to re-orienting healthcare from a tertiary model of healthcare to a preventive model as per the Australian government’s responsibility under the Ottawa Charter of Health.
  • Recommendation 3: Urgently address the Indigenous nutrition policy vacuum in Australia.
  • Recommendation 4: Ensure sustained bi-partisan political support to facilitate consistent collaborative action with a united long-term commitment to implementation and evaluation funding for food and nutrition policies and programmes.
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